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Car Accident Drunk Drivers

Car Accident-Drunk Drivers

Brien Roche

A man in Florida who suffers from brain damage due to a crash caused by a drunk driver was awarded $5 million in his personal injury claim.  In 2007 Dwight Grant, a passenger in a stopped vehicle, was hit by Matthew Lyons who was being pursued by the police.  After Lyons hit the car that Grant was in, Lyons left the scene.

Grant had fractures to his skull and face.  This hit and run crash caused traumatic brain injury to Grant’s frontal lobe.  Grant requires constant care due to the seizure disorder he now suffers from.

Defense counsel for Lyons claimed that Grant was not diligent in his rehab effort or in taking his medicine and that this made his condition worse. The jury found Grant 2% liable for his condition and this reduced his $15.4 million award.  The case settled for $5 million. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Car Accident Drunk Drivers and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Although drunk drivers are sometimes punished through large court awards, more often than not those awards are unpaid.  Many people carry minimum insurance policy limits.  In fact in many areas drivers do not have to be insured. For instance in the state of Virginia, an owner is not required to have coverage. If however the owner does not have coverage then they must pay an uninsured motorist fee.

That results in a number of drivers on the road who are not insured. If you are struck by a drunk driver who is not insured then your recovery is limited to your uninsured motorist coverage. You may be able to recover up to whatever your uninsured motorist limits are.

The odd thing about an uninsured motorist claim is that it puts you adverse to your own insurance company.  That is you are seeking to recover money based upon the conduct of a third party.  However the entity that is going to be paying you for that conduct of the third party is your own insurer. The purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to provide you (the insured) a source of recovery in the event that at-fault driver is either not insured or not adequately insured.

Car Accident Drunk Drivers and Punitives.

People injured in drunk driving crashes may pursue both claims for compensatory damages and punitive damages. Across the country thousands of people die every year because of alcohol related crashes. In Virginia almost a third of all traffic deaths involve alcohol.

In most cases the victim can only claim what are called “compensatory damages”. If the party causing the injury was a drunk driver, then punitive damages may be allowed. Punitive damages go beyond compensatory damages. They are designed to punish the wrongdoer for that person’s conduct.

There are two ways to plead a claim for punitive damages.  The first is simply by alleging a common law violation.  The second is by alleging a statutory violation.  The statute is Virginia Code § 8.01-44.5.

Pleasdings

To plead a common law claim, you need to be able to plead and prove that the conduct of the defendant is willful and wanton.  Alleging simply that the defendant was intoxicated may not be enough.  Other conduct to look at may be the following:

  • A mixing of drugs and alcohol.  In this type of case, you may want to retain a toxicologist to explain the effect that this mixing has on a person’s thinking and reaction time.
  • Particularly aggressive driving.
  • Particularly dangerous driving with the specifics set forth.
  • Prior convictions.
  • Attendance in ASAP programs so that it can be alleged that the dangers of drinking and driving have been expressly explained to the defendant.  

The punitive damage statute referenced above does not lower the bar for an award of punitive damages.  Rather what it does do is it sets forth a per se willful and wanton situation.  That is, if you can allege and prove what is set forth in the statute, then punitive damages should be submitted to the jury for determination. 

Statutory Claim

Under the statute the plaintiff must prove the drunk driver had a blood alcohol content that exceeds .15. In addition the victim must prove that at the time of the crash the driver knew or should have known that his ability to drive a car was impaired. In addition the victim must prove the drunk driver knew he would be impaired if he got drunk and indeed that driver’s state then caused damage to the victim. Even if the victim does not have a claim for punitive damages she has a claim for compensatory damages, i.e. to be compensated fully and fairly for her injuries. Under the statute subsequent similar conduct may be admissible

Alcohol Detectors

Alcohol detectors are now good enough that they detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s body. This is technology that has been developed in the last several years as a result of the interest in sniffing out terrorist bombs.  Auto makers and federal safety regulators are working to improve these sensing devices. That would keep a vehicle from starting if the driver had too much alcohol in his or her system. Many areas now require an ignition interlock system on cars driven by people convicted of DWI/DUI.

With this new technology the sensing device could be set at the prohibited level of alcohol content and if the driver was at or above that level then the driver would not be able to start the vehicle.

For more information on drunk drivers, see the other pages on this site and see the pages on Wikipedia. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

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Car Accident Drunk Drivers

Car Accident-Drunk Drivers

Brien Roche

A man in Florida who suffers from brain damage due to a crash caused by a drunk driver was awarded $5 million in his personal injury claim.  In 2007 Dwight Grant, a passenger in a stopped vehicle, was hit by Matthew Lyons who was being pursued by the police.  After Lyons hit the car that Grant was in, Lyons left the scene.

Grant had fractures to his skull and face.  This hit and run crash caused traumatic brain injury to Grant’s frontal lobe.  Grant requires constant care due to the seizure disorder he now suffers from.

Defense counsel for Lyons claimed that Grant was not diligent in his rehab effort or in taking his medicine and that this made his condition worse. The jury found Grant 2% liable for his condition and this reduced his $15.4 million award.  The case settled for $5 million. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Car Accident Drunk Drivers and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Although drunk drivers are sometimes punished through large court awards, more often than not those awards are unpaid.  Many people carry minimum insurance policy limits.  In fact in many areas drivers do not have to be insured. For instance in the state of Virginia, an owner is not required to have coverage. If however the owner does not have coverage then they must pay an uninsured motorist fee.

That results in a number of drivers on the road who are not insured. If you are struck by a drunk driver who is not insured then your recovery is limited to your uninsured motorist coverage. You may be able to recover up to whatever your uninsured motorist limits are.

The odd thing about an uninsured motorist claim is that it puts you adverse to your own insurance company.  That is you are seeking to recover money based upon the conduct of a third party.  However the entity that is going to be paying you for that conduct of the third party is your own insurer. The purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to provide you (the insured) a source of recovery in the event that at-fault driver is either not insured or not adequately insured.

Car Accident Drunk Drivers and Punitives.

People injured in drunk driving crashes may pursue both claims for compensatory damages and punitive damages. Across the country thousands of people die every year because of alcohol related crashes. In Virginia almost a third of all traffic deaths involve alcohol.

In most cases the victim can only claim what are called “compensatory damages”. If the party causing the injury was a drunk driver, then punitive damages may be allowed. Punitive damages go beyond compensatory damages. They are designed to punish the wrongdoer for that person’s conduct.

There are two ways to plead a claim for punitive damages.  The first is simply by alleging a common law violation.  The second is by alleging a statutory violation.  The statute is Virginia Code § 8.01-44.5.

Pleasdings

To plead a common law claim, you need to be able to plead and prove that the conduct of the defendant is willful and wanton.  Alleging simply that the defendant was intoxicated may not be enough.  Other conduct to look at may be the following:

  • A mixing of drugs and alcohol.  In this type of case, you may want to retain a toxicologist to explain the effect that this mixing has on a person’s thinking and reaction time.
  • Particularly aggressive driving.
  • Particularly dangerous driving with the specifics set forth.
  • Prior convictions.
  • Attendance in ASAP programs so that it can be alleged that the dangers of drinking and driving have been expressly explained to the defendant.  

The punitive damage statute referenced above does not lower the bar for an award of punitive damages.  Rather what it does do is it sets forth a per se willful and wanton situation.  That is, if you can allege and prove what is set forth in the statute, then punitive damages should be submitted to the jury for determination. 

Statutory Claim

Under the statute the plaintiff must prove the drunk driver had a blood alcohol content that exceeds .15. In addition the victim must prove that at the time of the crash the driver knew or should have known that his ability to drive a car was impaired. In addition the victim must prove the drunk driver knew he would be impaired if he got drunk and indeed that driver’s state then caused damage to the victim. Even if the victim does not have a claim for punitive damages she has a claim for compensatory damages, i.e. to be compensated fully and fairly for her injuries. Under the statute subsequent similar conduct may be admissible

Alcohol Detectors

Alcohol detectors are now good enough that they detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s body. This is technology that has been developed in the last several years as a result of the interest in sniffing out terrorist bombs.  Auto makers and federal safety regulators are working to improve these sensing devices. That would keep a vehicle from starting if the driver had too much alcohol in his or her system. Many areas now require an ignition interlock system on cars driven by people convicted of DWI/DUI.

With this new technology the sensing device could be set at the prohibited level of alcohol content and if the driver was at or above that level then the driver would not be able to start the vehicle.

For more information on drunk drivers, see the other pages on this site and see the pages on Wikipedia. Call, or contact us for a free consult.

Contact Us For A Free Consultation

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